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Experts in Our Midst

Unlocking the Potential of Diaspora Staff in the NHS: THET's Diaspora Network for Global Health in Action

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1 in 6

NHS staff in the UK report a non-British nationality

Yet, the expertise and cultural knowledge of diaspora staff is often undervalued and underutilised. The persistence of unconscious bias and systemic racism present obstacles to fully harnessing the unique perspectives and experiences of diaspora staff in global health.

The NHS must center inclusion and race equality in its leadership and decision-making, ensuring the UK’s health system is fit for the future, benefitting fully from the wealth of knowledge and expertise in our diverse healthcare workforce.

Recognising the Contribution NHS Diaspora Staff Make to Global Health

In partnership with NHS organisations across England and Wales, the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) has established the Diaspora Network for Global Health. The Network aims to harness the knowledge diaspora staff have of other health systems to develop practical solutions that improve health service delivery in the UK and overseas. Building on the recommendations outlined in THET’s 2021 policy report Experts in Our Midst, the Network strengthens

existing diversity and inclusion strategies within NHS organisations whilst also providing enhanced ESG credentials that help to retain, develop and promote diaspora leadership. The founding NHS organisations leading this Network include Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals Trust, East London Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.

Modern diasporas are ethnic minority groups of migrant origins residing and acting in host countries but maintaining strong sentimental and material links with their countries of origin.

Through its partnership with Health Education England (HEE), THET has also been able to award several Diaspora Volunteering Fellowships for Health Partnerships, which have been instrumental in capturing and promoting diaspora expertise and leadership, supporting the links staff working in the UK have with their countries of heritage. These fellowships have enabled diaspora staff to engage in global activities and lead projects in Kenya on nursing leadership and development in surgery and maternity departments, and in the Philippines on strengthening diabetes care and support in isolated and disadvantaged areas of the Visayas Islands.

Storytelling is at the heart of all this work, with a focus on platforming diaspora perspectives from across the NHS, captured in a flagship report that will be published in late 2023.

This work is being led by THET’s Diaspora Engagement Advisor, Kokila Swamynathan MSc ACP, whose secondment is sponsored by Sue Tranka, the Chief Nursing Officer of Wales and is funded by the Welsh Government.

How to get involved

  • Partner with us on THET’s Diaspora Staff and Global Health Survey and help us gather valuable insights into the relationships between diaspora staff and their countries of heritage
  • Join us in developing new ideas and processes that allow us to champion the diaspora staff in our UK healthcare workforce and support diaspora global engagement.
  • Connect with THET’s Experts Team for more information about this programme and how to get involved: Kokila Swamynathan, Diaspora Engamenet Advisor, kokila.swamynathan@thet.org


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Experts in Our Midst: Recognising the contribution NHS diaspora staff make to global health

Our latest pivotal report explores the contribution NHS diaspora staff make to global health. Composing 15% of the NHS’ workforce, their expertise, knowledge and leadership are often overlooked, and as a result, the NHS risks losing its global reputation at a crucial time.

Experts in Our Midst explores the broader current context and promotes the marginalised voices of diaspora NHS staff within the wider, often hostile, environment. We know diaspora NHS staff have always played a valuable role in Health Partnerships. What we did not know was the scale of their engagement, the challenges faced, nor how best to amplify their voices to demonstrate the impact diaspora can have on global health projects.

Read our latest ‘Experts in Our Midst’ report here.

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Click here to download our Diaspora Network for Global Health factsheet.